World of Warcraft Goes Free-to-Play Until Level 20
Free-to-play is the big new development in MMO’s, enabling studios to hook players without the impediment of expensive monthly fees. Sensing their competition stirring, Blizzard today announced new “Starter Edition” accounts, which enable players to level a character up to 20 and get a taste for what the game has to offer.
Now it’s official: WoW really is like drugs — the first one’s always free. Coming on the heels of Cataclsym (which wasn’t quite as big a smash as the Irvine, CA mega-developers had hoped), the change might also be an attempt to stave off competition from The Old Republic, which looks ready to launch around the holiday season. Also, as pointed out by blogger and video game business egghead Bill Harris at Dubious Quality, the game market is very different than it was in 2004, when World of Warcraft launched. Mobile and tablet gaming take up more of gamers’ time, and Facebook is a effective delivery device for persistent, addictive, repetitive content. Only time will tell if this gambit by Blizzard will pay off. In the meantime, check out the exact terms of the Starter Edition below.
- A level cap of 20.
- A maximum of 10 gold.
- Trade skills are capped at 100 ranks.
- Unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player.
- In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper.
- Characters will be unable to create or join guilds.
- Characters are not able to send whispers to other characters unless they have been added to the characters’ friends lists or have received a whisper from a character first.
- Characters will not be able to invite other players into a party.
- Characters will not be able to join parties with other characters above level 20.
- Voice chat disabled on Starter Edition accounts.
- Realms experiencing login queues will prioritize players who have full, paid accounts.
- Starter Edition accounts are not eligible for character transfers
- RealID features are disabled on all Starter Edition Accounts.